The Addiction Cycle - What is it?To onlookers, an addiction is perceived as a static behaviour, as a choice, as a constant decision to enable drug and alcohol abuse.

Yet, in reality, the addiction cycle exists, moving addicts in and out of a state of consumption, of side effects, of cravings, of addictive behaviours, and of relapse risks.

Within that cycle, a state of desperation, of longing for withdrawal, of reaching out for help is also experienced, showcasing the whirlwind of living with an addiction.

The addiction cycle moves individuals from initial use, all the way to relapse, post-withdrawal, showcasing exactly how vicious and tough it can be to break.

Yet, in order to overcome an addiction, of any degree, that exact addiction cycle must be diminished, suppressed and personally unwelcomed, through a lot of hard work, addiction treatment services and relapse prevention plans.

While for some, an addiction can rapidly develop, in reality, being a multifaceted brain illness, causing physical and psychological impacts, it can in fact take some time, consistent exposure, and require limited control to develop an addiction.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions around an addiction diagnosis, where onlookers believe that it is a choice to be addicted to drugs and alcohol, that addiction will materialise through a single exposure and that control is present.

While for the minority, exposure to a highly addictive drug, in the wrong moment can increase the susceptibility of addiction, a diagnosis goes way beyond this misunderstanding, known as the addiction cycle.

While the cycle showcases the 5 common steps of developing an addiction, prolonging its materialisation as an easier to spot occurrence, it is important that addiction diagnoses are taken seriously and that attempts are made to break the addiction cycle.

If you’re struggling with an addiction of any degree, we are here for you at Addiction Advocates, helping you understand the ongoing cycle you’re experiencing, along with actively working to break it. Get in touch to learn more about our alcohol and drug rehab programmes.


What is the Addiction Cycle?

The addiction cycle is made up of five key motions. However, relapse does also fall within the cycle for many, where lone withdrawal attempts are unfortunately unfulfilled. This is where relapse and abuse link, making it difficult to suppress substance abuse.

For some, the addiction cycle will follow this exact structure, moving individuals in and out of the phases of addiction.

However, dependent on the addictiveness of the drug which has been abused, and dependent on personal susceptibility to addictive weaknesses, the cycle can divert, can take longer for some, or can be experienced at a rapid rate for others.


Initial use

Any addiction will begin with initial use. This is where drugs and alcohol are commonly consumed innocently.

Whether that’s to celebrate something, to try something new, to escape for the evening, or to self-medicate through emotional or physical pain, there are many reasons why the foundations of addiction can develop.

It’s also important to remember that aspects such as family history, as environments, as in the nurture debate can motivate initial use.

Initial use will be perceived as harmless, where an addiction diagnosis will be far from reality for the user.

However, it is important to remember that for some individuals, the effects produced by drugs or alcohol can immediately fill a gap in their life, speeding up the addiction cycle, moving them from abuse, to addiction rapidly.



Once initial use develops, the abuse stage of the addiction cycle will present itself. This is where drugs or alcohol will commonly be misused, in order to achieve their positive effects.

At this point, substance abuse is still viewed as harmless, as the norm down to consistent exposure to drugs and alcohol.

However, this is where the risk of developing an addiction shows itself, as this is where individuals will begin to weigh up the pros and cons of ongoing abuse.

If the pros take over, where any degree of consequence will be overlooked, a tolerance will likely build-up very quickly.



At this point of the addiction cycle, a personal tolerance will likely mature. Here’s where greater quantities of drugs and alcohol will be required to achieve those initial use effects.

By encountering a tolerance, this is a clear sign that adaptations have occurred on physical and psychological levels, where both the body and brain will crave ongoing consumption. Without that consumption, withdrawal symptoms can show themselves, until the presence of drugs and alcohol reappear.

Tolerance can quickly materialise when considering highly addictive illegal drugs, indicating their dangers, as the brain and body will soon adapt to require substance abuse



Reaching the dependence stage of the addiction cycle is the first accurate sign that an addiction will develop if enabled.

Here’s where the body and brain will long for ongoing consumption in order to function adequately, in order to cope, in order to tackle subsequent side effects, commonly seen as mental health issues when considering an addiction diagnosis.

Not every single tolerance will develop into a dependence, as control can be regained. However, for those who enable and welcome the presence of drugs and alcohol, here’s where the cycle reaches its peak of addiction.



Addiction is where physical and psychological associations will be present when considering the exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Here’s where breaking the consumption cycle will seem impossible, where withdrawal symptoms present themselves if attempts are made, where the quality of life will reduce down to substance abuse.

There are many signs and symptoms of addiction to look out for. Yet, the greatest indicator is that, if drugs and alcohol take priority, and if they are changing every aspect of your life, the peak of the addiction cycle has been reached, requiring professional intervention.



Once an addiction is diagnosed, some will attempt to personally withdraw. Others will continue to misuse drugs and alcohol, and others will source professional support. For those attempting lone detoxification, relapse, beyond the 5 stages of addiction is possible.

Here’s where withdrawal will be impossible down to the difficulties of breaking the cycle of addiction, resulting in ongoing drug and alcohol abuse, ultimately amplifying the cycle.


The Difficulties of breaking the Cycle of Addiction

No matter which stage of the addiction cycle you may be within, breaking it can feel impossible. There’s a strong probability that the connection that you feel, towards the abuse and tolerance stages will, however, be less than the stages of dependence and addiction, meaning that greater opportunities to diminish the cycle will be present.

However, it is important to note that breaking the cycle of addiction is difficult, down to the rapid, habitual behaviours, driving each connection of the cycle.

Once the cycle is experienced, where significant associations are made, it will be very challenging to reverse the addiction cycle without professional intervention.

While the addiction cycle is connected, wherein essence it’s streamlined, it is highly complex, can be different for every individual, and can be unpredictable. Down to this, it can be difficult to work through the driving force, alone.


Breaking the Addiction Cycle with professional support

Currently, breaking the addiction cycle may seem impossible. Yet, with professional support, guidance and a stream of fitting addiction treatment services, you can interject and weaken its hold, ultimately breaking the foundation of the cycle.

This will be aimed for by tackling the causation of initial use, along with detoxification for physical purposes. By starting at the beginning of the cycle, and unravelling associations, greater recovery probabilities will be present.

With our guidance at Addiction Advocates, we can help you break the addiction cycle by finding the care and drug or alcohol rehab treatment that you deserve, and a stream of fitting treatment services to work on your physical and psychological link to drugs and alcohol.

Interject as soon as possible to tackle the difficult yet worthwhile goal of overcoming addiction.